All roads lead to Nakuru City for the Nakuru Kitabu Fest — a literary convening of authors, performers and literature enthusiasts to engage in an afternoon of societal introspection and music performance.

Convened by Peter Oduor — a journalist, writer and communications expert — the festival seeks to enhance and encourage artistic expression through reading, writing, performance and intellectual literary discourses and forums.

The half-day festival runs every month at the Nakuru Players Theatre and features author readings, moderated interviews, Q&A from members of the public, a networking session, spoken word and music performances.

The Nakuru Kitabu Fest is a new monthly event. The inaugural event was held on 10th December 2023, featuring author Silas Nyanchwani and Clinical Psychologist and writer Chomba Njoka, and was moderated by Boniface Mwalii — the Entertainment and Arts Journalists of Kenya {EAJAK}Chairman).

Left to right: Chomba Njoka, Silas Nyanchwani, Bonface Mwalii

The inaugural event attracted over 70 participants — young people of between 25-45 years of age who live or work in the city and are interested in literary activities (writing, editing, translation, literary criticism, oral performances) and other stakeholders in the publishing industry in Kenya.

The festival creates an opportunity for authors to interact with the audience, and for readers to purchase their favourite novels, memoirs, (auto)biographies, and poetry collections and anthologies.

This month, for the January 28th 2024 Kitabu Fest, the event will feature three authors: Joan Thatiah, Ciku Kimeria, and Richard Oduor Oduku. The conversations on “The Contemporary Woman: Witnessing Women in Transition” and “The Place of Non-Fiction in Recording Our History and in Telling Our Own Stories” will be moderated by Alexis Tayie.

The Authors

Joan Thatiah

Joan Thatiah is a Former Journalist and Author of 9 books, including; I am Too Pretty to be Broke, Things I will Tell My Daughter, Confessions of Nairobi Men among other titles.

Joan began her writing career in 2011 as a print journalist with Daily Nation in Nairobi. In 2016, after five years writing about and for Kenyan women, Joan wrote and published her first book Things I Will Tell My Daughter.

Joan went on to write eight more books namely: I’m Too Pretty To Be Broke and Other lies you’ve been telling yourself (2017), Letters To My Son (2018), Damn, Girl! Stop That (2019), Guilty – A Novel (2020), Everything I Know About Life (2021), Confessions of Nairobi Women (2022), Confessions of Nairobi Women Book Two (2023) Confessions of Nairobi Men (2023).

In 2019, she was first runner up of the Quramo Writers’ Prize in Lagos, Nigeria with her debut novel Guilty. Guilty is a love story which explores the Kenyan corporate world, and a man’s struggle to find meaning which drives some men to terrorism.

Ciku Kimeria

Ciku Kimeria is the Quartz Africa Editor and Author of Of Goats and Poisoned Oranges and Dance of the Monkeys.

Author, journalist, communication and strategy specialist, adventurer and travel writer, Ciku writes both fiction and non-fiction focusing on African stories that need telling.

She is the Culture Editor at Global Press Journal, an independent global media house that builds all-women news bureaus in some of the world’s most underreported countries. 

Prior to that she was a longtime contributor and Editor at Quartz Africa, and authored almost 50 articles for the site, on topics as wide-ranging as the perils of traveling with an African passport to the optimism inspired by Africa’s first non-fungible token (NFT) art collections.

Ciku is the author of two mystery novels (Dance of the Monkeys and Of goats and Poisoned Oranges), and have written for a variety of outlets, including African Arguments, Okay Africa, and The Africa Report.

She has a wealth of communication and project management experience, having worked for and served as a communication advisor to The Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center, Dalberg Advisors, Open Society Initiative of West Africa, and The Africa Agriculture and Trade Investment Fund. I have traveled to 56 countries, 23 of them in Africa.

Richard Oduor Oduku

Oduor Oduku is the Founder of Sisi Afrika and author of Slave, Interpreter and Commissioner General.

Richard is a Research and Program Management Consultant, Publisher, Writer and Editor, living and working in Nairobi.  He is the Founder of Sisi Afrika Foundation, and the Editor-In-Chief of Sisi Afrika Magazine and Sisi Afrika Books. Richard is a Founding Member of Jalada Africa Trust – a Pan-African collective, where he worked for years as the Program Manager and Festival Coordinator. He has also served as a Nonfiction Editor at Panorama – The Journal for Intelligent Travel.

Richard writes fiction, non-fiction, poetry, literary reviews, critical essays and social commentary. His poetry first appeared in San Antonio Review more than a decade ago. His fiction and non-fiction work has been published in Jalada Africa, Saraba Africa, Panorama, Brittle Paper, This is Africa, Sisi Afrika Magazine, and The Elephant, among others.

His short story eNGAGEMENT was shortlisted for the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Awards (2015). His poetry collection was shortlisted by the Brunel International African Poetry Prize (2017). His essays have been shortlisted by Brittle Paper Award for Essays/Think Pieces (2017) and Brittle Paper Anniversary Award (2018).

Richard was a Columnist for two years with The Star, nearly a decade ago, and contributed a weekly column focusing on political analyses, as part of #MaskaniConversations: an iterative online-to-offline initiative hosted by Maskani Ya Taifa, through Tweetups, to facilitate public participation and promote engagement on issues relevant to all Kenyans.

Away from the literary world, Richard is a research consultant, runs a market research consultancy firm and is entangled in the statistics and data science world. He also serves in the Board of Youth on the Move (NGO), Kenya.

Alexis Teyie

Alexis Teyie is a writer, publisher, translator and film photographer. Alexis has written a couple of books, including Short Cut (2015) and Clay Plates: Broken Records of Kiswahili Proverbs (2016).

Alexis (Alex) Teyie is an artist, researcher and publisher. Alex trained as a historian of the (colonial-era) visual culture of Eastern Africa. In 2016, Alex co-founded online literary magazine, Enkare Review– publisher of varied writers, including Maaza Mengiste, Khadija El Bajaber, and Carey Baraka.

In 2022, they joined Down River Road (DRR) – an online and print publisher – as Managing Editor. Through DRR, Alex works with the Karara Community Library and Archives and the Kibeti ya Seli mutual aid fund.

Alex’s short fiction, poetry and essays are published by Jalada Africa, Short Story Day Africa, Konya Shamsrumi, Africa in Dialogue, Writivism, A Long House, 2035 Africa, LitHub, Omenana among others. The African Poetry Book Fund and Akashic Books published Teyie’s most recent book, Clay Plates: Broken Records of Kiswahili Proverbs. Alex’s first publication, a children’s book titled Shortcut (illustrated by Cosette Lias), was released by the Mead Museum.

Teyie also leads research and advisory for nonprofits, startups, and impact investors.

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